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CORRECTED: Banking background served 17-year city treasurer well
Gar Rourke didn't ask to be the Colusa treasurer, but ended up serving 17 years in the post.
And as he noted to the new City Council this week, he has no complaints about his time with the city, and didn't get any complaints either.
"This is the last appearance of this guy as the treasurer. For the last 17 years there have been no complaints that I've learned of," Rourke said Tuesday as he officially stepped down. "It has been a good thing for me. I've enjoyed it."
Rourke will be replaced by Robin Rauch, who defeated Rourke's wife, Rita, in the Nov. 6 election.
His tenure with the city started in 1995 with the death of Ed Riley. Then-Councilman Frank Jaconetti approached Rourke about filling the position.
"I said, 'Well, it seems like something I could do, and if it helps the city, it is something I am willing to do,'" Rourke said.
The 89-year-old Rourke said there wasn't any manual or handbook to show him how to do the job, so he studied the government codes and attended some training seminars by the state and started to work his way into the job.
His background in the banking industry, and particularly his familiarity with investments, certainly made him qualified, but it was still new to him.
Rourke had gone to work for Bank of America in 1941.
However, with the outbreak of World War II, that career was put on hold quickly.
"I was living in Auburn and the draft board was right on my heels, and I wasn't going in the Army, no way, so I enlisted in the Navy," Rourke said.
He spent four years in the service before being honorably discharged back into his job with the bank, which he held until he retired in 1986.
Part of his work in the bank actually had made him quite familiar with the city and county finances.
One of the first things he did for the city was to move excess funds sitting in non-interest bearing funds into investment accounts.
But he was careful to choose accounts where the money would be available if the city needed it.
Over the years, the city's priorities and politics changed, but Rourke said not much changed for him, and he was never pressured about how to do his job.
That is until in recent years when there was a push by the city administration to move the money from admittedly low-interest earning accounts to higher-interest accounts.
Rourke pushed back.
"To make (higher) interest, you have to lock it up, and you wouldn't have it available," Rourke said of those city funds.
Over the years he learned the city frequently needed access to those funds, so while the interest gained was truly poor, the funds were available without penalty.
Rourke said it is actually the city's finance department that is more critical, and believes that whomever is selected as the new city manager should have a finance background as well.
In the meantime, he said he is willing to help the new treasurer find her way if she wants, but has not been contacted as of yet.
Rourke said he has no bucket list of things to do now that he has a little more time. He is still part of the Colusa County Scholarship Foundation and the Rotary Club.
"And someone may come along and say, 'You don't have anything to do, why not join this?" said Rourke, enjoying the irony of coming full circle in his retirement from the bank.